I was interested in find out how First Nation/Art could be used without cultural appropriation after so many incidents in the fashion world and beyond. Christi Belcourt, before her collaboration with the fashion house Valentino, took her time to think about and find out if this would be culturally appropriate. In my earlier weblogs, I investigated cultural appropriation in the context of arts/fashion and beyond.
This is how Christi Belcourt used her art for an education setting founded on a First Nation story: Sacred Fisher Story. This mural project is actually a tool guide for educators and students across Ontario based on First Nation teachings and knowledge. Lesson plans are provided, and much more.
This collective work demonstrates the commitment to preserving language by creating an immersion art setting for participants. It is the elders, their knowledge, birds and plants, and language that are the driving force of this artistic purposed project that is used to revive one’s language. Initiated by Christi Belcourt and others.
“For thousands of years the Anishinabek have been using a Red Ochre paint called Onaman. It is made from red ochre, animal or fish fat, and other ingredients such as urine and duck or seagull eggs. These are cooked together on a low heat. The longer you cook the paint the redder it becomes. In the language the word “Onaman” refers to the action of thickening something. There are many types of Onaman, most of them use types of Fungi, and each of them thickening agents, particularly in the clotting of blood in wounds.” – Isaac Murdoch
While researching Nancy Turner and Christi Belcourt’s works, I stumbled upon a book with a title called Medicines to Help Us by Christi:
“Christi Belcourt fuses her evocative artwork with Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Western Science. With contributions from Métis Elders Rose Richardson and Olive Whitford, as well as key Michif phrases and terminology, Medicines to Help Us is the most accessible resource relating to Métis healing traditions produced to date.”
See here: https://gdins.org/product/medicines-to-help-us-book-only/. I guess I would need a hard copy here.
This is a .pdf file from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Christi tells us a story behind her work. Although there is more to it than just focusing on plants, while reading it, it made me think of Nancy Turner’s mention of holistic knowledge and how plants are tied to linguistics, knowledge, tradition, history, and therefore, are inseparable from each other.
Christi while explaining one part of her work “Looking Ahead” says:
“This section represents the time before residential schools existed. Important ceremonies marking the transition from childhood to adulthood, such as the strawberry fast, were taught and practiced. Harvesting blueberries, learning about medicines and knowledge of plants and animals were passed from one generation to the next.”